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Heidi High

"You'll always find me in the kitchen at parties..."

Heidi has, like many of us, found solace in routing through old vinyl collections but since her days of working in a record store she has quickly become one of underground and house music's most prolific female DJs.

Growing up surrounded by many styles of music helped push Heidi over the Canadian border to the pumping heart of house music in Chicago. Finally, she resided in London and soon became involved with Koobla Records and the infamous Phonica record shop; she was then snapped up by the Get Physical imprint meaning she made the move to Berlin and has since been a huge fixture in its music scene.

Now the fierce DJ takes over stages and booths worldwide unleashing her Jackathon party on each and every continent. Here Hannah Davies finds out about her 'sound', girl power and what she likes to get low to... go on girl!

Tell us how you went from record shop worker to world class DJ?

Well it sort of happened by accident, I've always been a music fanatic so I guess it's in my blood. Around 2004 I met the M.A.N.D.Y guys from Get Physical and we became good friends and they kind of took me under their wings and invited me to play with them. I then had to learn how to DJ very quickly as I didn't really know how, I just knew what I liked to hear when I was on the dance floor and having a record store at my fingertips helped. It's been a long road and a slow process but the rewards are finally starting to show.

Did you face any struggles along the way, and if so how did you overcome them to get where you are today?

I faced some struggles like anyone in any job; I was getting a lot of panic attacks at the beginning from travel stress. My whole schedule got turned upside down and the not sleeping and drinking too much and then getting on planes in different time zones really messed me up during the first year I really started to play a lot. Literally ripped away from all my friends in a flash. Then I figured out what was causing the problems and it took me 2 years to get it together and now I know what my body can and cannot do. It's a job that can really wreck your body if you let it. I now pick and choose my battles; it's all about the balance. That's a hard one to figure out when you're inside a techno tornado for years.

You soon began hosting your Jackathon party at Watergate, Berlin and Sankeys and have now taken it to a worldwide level, what is the concept behind the night?

I was getting really lonely travelling so much by myself and I sort of came to the end and wasn't sure if I wanted to DJ anymore. I missed my friends and family so much and when you're not a mega superstar DJ you don't have a tour manager or "road buddy" as I call them. I was honestly by myself so much except for the 2 hours in the club. So in 2008 when I started doing my show on BBC Radio 1 called 'In new DJs we trust' I thought I might be able to start something bigger, so in 2009 I started the parties. Inviting DJs and producers that I admired and knew from being on the scene; like-minded souls all brought together to create a house party vibe and that's exactly what happened. All of the parties have been so wonderful; it's a 'leave your ego at the door' vibe. Everyone comes down early and supports the other DJs, dancing until the sun comes up and it has been such a pleasure.

Where did the name come from?

It came from a set I did in berlin, I played for like 8 hours at 'Bar 25' years ago and my friends described it as a marathon. So, after a play on words it became Jackathon. It's cheeky and it stuck with me in my mind.

What do you think it is about the party that makes it so popular and how do you go about choosing your line-ups?

The energy and genuine kindness of the people I book to play and of course booking a variety of great artists so the music isn't the same all night. I like to change it up. Keeps it fresh. The fact that most of the DJs know each other also helps. Good vibes all around. I would never invite someone who has a bad attitude or someone who moans. Uuuurgh! I cant stand that, I like lots of laughs and smiles.

With such a range of talent how would you best describe the sound of one of your Jackathon parties?

The best house (actual house/my kitchen) party in a big ass club!

Having chosen Sankeys as the home for your gigs this year how would you describe the venue to someone who hasn't been yet?

Well I do the Jackathon parties in manchester at Sankeys so it made sense to do them there this summer. The venue is a more buffed up cleaner version of the Sankeys in manchester. But I had many homes over the summer, I played for virtually everyone. It was such an honour to be asked by people that I have looked up to for years to play. I wanted to spread myself around and see what was out there.

I saw you play an amazing set for We Love back in June, tell us how you ensure that you keep your performances fresh and exciting?

I just play from my gut and feeling out the crowd. I'm good at reading people and the same goes for a crowd. You have to move with their moves and moods.

Tell us about your sound and what inspires you musically...

Anything that makes me want to get low to the floor... A little bump and grind never hurt anyone! Haha.

Do you get nervous before a set or have any pre-gig routines that you do to prepare yourself?

I rarely get nervous, I feel comfortable behind the decks now. I get nervous when I know a lot of my peers are around or other DJs or if there are 20,000 people staring you in the face; that can be quite overwhelming but then the nerves turn into adrenaline and thats when things pop off! I love it.

You were meant to join Marco Carola for his Music On night to play alongside Miss Kittin and Cameo how comes you couldn't make it?

Unfortunately I couldn't make that gig, I had 2 slipped discs in my back and that was very upsetting day for me as I have never played Amnesia and I was looking forward to playing with my guuurls in da hood. It was so nice to be asked and I heard it was a great night. Marco Carola knows how to rock a dance-floor!

Do you feel that women are making more and more of an impact on the industry nowadays?

Yes! There are more in the scene now than ever before, it makes me very happy to see this.

What is your favourite club here in Ibiza, both to play at and to party in?

Space all the way. That's where I started playing years ago and I love the terrace so much. This year I played for Carl Cox, We Love and Richie Hawtin all at Space; there is an amazing energy and the sound is incredible. They know how to treat people and are so professional. It's a pleasure in every way.

In 2010-2011 alone you played on every continent excluding Antarctica but where is your favourite place to play?

Club and city... I love playing in Mexico (everywhere) and South America (everywhere). The vibe is just electric in the Latin countries. So free. I can really connect with the crowds there. They eat up what ever you feel like playing and go on the journey with you. Can't give any specific clubs as they have all been fantastic...

You have done a lot to try to bring more underground artists into the limelight through channels such as your BBC Radio 1 show called Radio 1's Residency, why do you think it is so important to give underground artists a bit of a push?

It's important because people need to know that there is music out there being made and produced with love and passion and not for the sole purpose of making money. Really gorgeous music and that's what I try and do on my show. To showcase music that I'm playing and into and bring a bit of the underground to a wider audience. I have to dig a bit deeper now as the underground music of last year is now play-listed on daytime Radio 1. So it goes to show that if you make good music people will eventually grab hold of it given the chance and Radio 1 is a wonderful platform to do such things. I'm lucky to be able to do this on a national radio station and then people around the world can hear it online via the BBC iPlayer. It's the bomb!

Which rising stars should we look out for in the coming months?

Jesse Perez - I'm loving this guys tracks. He is doing an EP for my Jackathon Jams label. Music for the waist down aka booty jams! Kim Ann Foxman is also one to watch. She was one of the singers for Hercules and The Love Affair but has since gone solo and she has been making some amazing music. Loving her stuff. Kind of old school new york house music with a newer edge.

When you aren't Djing what do you enjoy doing most?

Sleeping, hanging out with my friends, going to the movies and eating dinner at some killer restaurants. Normal shit that most DJs that I know never get the chance to do.

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